Decreasing energy use and improving quality of lighting and internal atmosphere

Northumbria University had three buildings in their estate that weren’t performing well, with energy consumption and carbon emissions higher than they could be. These buildings had old lighting, lack of light output, lack of controls and inadequate and poorly performing ventilation and cooling in the library. All of these issues gave a poor student experience in the library, Squires Annexe and Squires Workshops – all part of the University’s City Campus.

Energy surveys to inform improvements

To achieve significant savings, it was key to work closely with our client and the faculty heads from the start. For six months, Robertson undertook detailed surveys of the way energy was used in all the buildings. During this stage we were able to calculate what energy savings could be achieved by replacing the lighting ventilation and cooling equipment and by adding good controls strategies once new modern equipment was installed.

We worked with our supply partners to successfully deliver the contract, primarily over the summer break. The retrofit project involved:

We were able to carry out these improvements without closing the building throughout the duration of the project, despite there being another significant capital project being undertaken in part of the library building.

LED lighting saves money and improves student experience

The low-energy LED fittings are motion-sensitive so only activate when someone enters an area in the buildings. In addition, many fittings near natural daylight can dim slightly, depending on the amount of natural daylight available, generating further savings.

The LEDs provide crisper, more consistent light, which helps teaching in classrooms and workshops. They also provide a more consistent colour temperature – rather than the warmer, yellowish but varying tones of the old fittings. This benefits the user experience significantly for students, staff and others who use the facilities. This improvement in light output is particularly important in Squires Workshops where visual arts teaching takes place, and where the use of dangerous tooling is necessary for teaching purposes.

The staff and students have provided great feedback and much prefer the brighter, whiter more consistent light throughout the buildings.

In the library, the new mechanical ventilation with heat recovery provides a constant temperature throughout all floors on the tower, eliminating the pockets of hot and cold air or stagnant air that was previously a problem across the whole City Library facility.

Energy performance guarantees money and carbon savings

Robertson has signed a performance contract for this project, meaning we have guaranteed that our work will give the client a minimum saving in terms of carbon emissions and monetary savings of over £75,000 per year.

We have to reduce our carbon by 32% by 2020, and it looks like we are actually going to hit our target two years early, and this is going to be one of the projects that will help us achieve that.

– Keith Slater, Carbon Manager, Northumbria University


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